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This chapter is from the book

SQL Server 2005 Remote Management Features

One of the real challenges facing administrators is how to manage more and more servers. Operations such as manufacturing and customer support are done around the globe, with local copies of data being synchronized during smaller and smaller windows. Administrators need to be able to remotely install, monitor, troubleshoot, and maintain remote servers. The SQL Server tools team has delivered three categories of interfaces to manage remote environments:

  • SQLCMD is for folks who are comfortable with command prompt applications. For customers migrating or currently using the command prompt languages, OSQL and ISQL are deprecated and have been replaced with SQLCMD. SQLCMD is a command-line executable. You invoke it at the command prompt by typing SQLCMD.
  • SQL Server Management Objects (SMO) is for those who build user interface–oriented applications. DBAs who want to build custom management tools will find that SMO has replaced DMO. SMO is a new API architecture that overcomes the limitations of DMO. SMO is scalable, reliable, and flexible. SMO is significantly more robust than DMO, because it is used by SQL Server Management Studio to connect and work with SQL Server instances. Every function found in SQL Server Management Studio is made possible by SMO.
  • Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) allows the use of Windows scripting languages, such as VBScript, and it’s more complicated than SMO or SQLCMD. WMI is powerful and provides deep hooks into the operating system, which is beyond the reach of SQLCMD and SMO. In an extremely complex infrastructure, the WMI provider may prove to be the most complete solution.

Remote functionality is also enhanced with new capabilities for scripting and working with Replication and Analysis Services (via respective .NET libraries), Replication Management Objects, and Analysis Management Objects.


SQL Server 2005 introduces a new command-prompt utility. SQLCMD uses the OLE DB API to communicate with SQL Server, while the other utilities use the older ODBC or DB-Library APIs. SQLCMD supports the functionality of OSQL and ISQL but also introduces a richer set of commands that allow it to operate better in application scripts, such as Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) scripts.

SQLCMD goes beyond simple command-line calls to an active server connection. It can be used a lot like old DOS scripts; that is, you can use simple text files to supply input variables to the CMD script. For example, suppose an administrator uses a text file to supply database server connection information to a script that automatically adds a new database to the standard backup-and-recovery model. Rather than run the wizard, the DBA simply supplies the new server information and runs the script. SQLCMD can also be used to run ad hoc queries against the server. Probably the most important functionality is that SQLCMD provides the dedicated admin connection a guaranteed connection to a server that is hung up. More importantly, the dedicated admin connection has bandwidth preallocated so that you can use the Dynamic Management Views to iteratively find the objectionable issue and kill the process without taking down the entire server.

You can develop SQLCMD scripts in SQL Server Query Editor by turning on SQLCMD mode. SQLCMD mode lets you use the Query Editor to create SQLCMD files. The advantage of this mode is that you can develop the script, test it in the Query Editor, and then deploy it. Overall, a DBA should be comfortable with SQLCMD, because the pithy execution of the dedicated administrator connection and writing a few queries can save the day when a server process goes astray.

To get started with SQLCMD, go to the command prompt and type SQLCMD. The basic switch for working with SQLCMD is -S, which identifies the server. To provide an instance, the command would be

sqlcmd -S ComputerName\InstanceName.

The authentication type has three switches:

  • -E is the default and uses the local user.
  • -U lets you specify a user, such as SA.
  • -P is the password. Passwords are case-sensitive. If the -P option is not used, and the SQLCMDPASSWORD environment variable has not been set, SQLCMD prompts the user for a password. If the -P option is used at the end of the command prompt without a password, SQLCMD uses the default password (NULL).

You can provide input files and output files as XML. You need to understand a number of things when working with SQLCMD. To learn more, press F1 while the SQL Server Management Studio is open, and search Books Online for SQLCMD. Getting to know this feature will be a lifesaver.

SQL Server Management Objects

SQL Server Management Objects (SMO) is a set of objects that expose the functionality of SQL Server database and replication management and Analysis Services management. You can use SMO to automate repetitive or commonly performed SQL Server administrative tasks, such as programmatically retrieving configuration settings, creating new databases, applying Transact-SQL scripts, creating SQL Server Agent jobs, and scheduling backups.

SMO is implemented as a set of .NET assemblies. SMO has many improvements over DMO, including a .NET object model, partial instantiation, capture mode execution, delegated execution, objects in space, and integration with the .NET Framework. For database management application developers and advanced DBAs, SMO is the primary means of creating custom applications that can manipulate instances of SQL Server. With SMO’s inclusion in the .NET Framework, you can develop both web-based and Windows Forms applications. SMO can also manage instances of SQL Server Express.

Windows Management Instrumentation

Microsoft SQL Server 2005 introduces a Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) configuration provider to programmatically manage SQL Server configuration. With the WMI provider, you can write management applications or scripts that monitor, configure, and control management information about SQL Server using the standards-based, object-oriented, remote-enabled, scriptable interface provided by the WMI framework.

If a DBA needs an easy way to retrieve all the configuration settings for a given SQL Server instance and save these settings to a text file, WMI might provide the means. WMI can also provide a means for capturing the overall server configuration, which includes Windows operating system information. This may prove useful in a disaster situation. Having a backup of the entire Registry and all the subsettings would make it easier to re-create the server from scratch. The DBA should be familiar with writing administrative scripts in VBScript using the Windows Script Host (WSH). The WMI interface lets you write a script that uses the SQL Management WMI provider to retrieve a collection of properties for a given SQL Server and save those properties to a text file.

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